What has stress got to do with weight loss?

Whether you like it or not, stressful situations are a part of modern life; commuting to work, the weekly meeting, picking the children up from school, paying bills and so on.

The problem is, however, that stress has been linked to heart and blood pressure issues, breathing problems, immune system issues and also weight gain.

In other words, stress is preventing you from living healthily.

How Does Stress Lead to Weight Gain?

Since weight is one the focal points of this book we need to address how stress leads to weight gain, and for that we need to take a look at human evolution.

Human beings have evolved over millions of years to develop a distinct stress response mechanism. When attacked by a predator the human body uses its internal carbohydrate and fat stores to release adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, giving the body more energy for ‘fight or flight.’

This same response exists in humans today, only our main stressors are issues at work, emails, bills and other aspects of modern life. In this environment we still release cortisol and adrenaline, but we rarely need to ‘fight or flee.’ The result is that our bodies build up cortisol, a hormone that encourages energy storage.

In short, excess cortisol makes us believe that we need to eat regardless of our actual demands for energy. And what does this led to in the long term…weight gain.

3 Ways to Manage Stress

  1. Eat well and appropriately

    Quality: If your body is stressed the last thing it needs is the additional trouble of digesting poor quality, sugar filled foods. In order to minimise the stress associated with digestion try to eat good quality, nutritionally dense whole foods that nourish your body. (See chapter four for some more guidance)
    Quantity/Timing: Again, if your body is already stressed it doesn’t need the extra hassle of having to digest huge quantities of food in a single sitting. Try to spread out your meals evenly across the day. This will help keep glucose levels balanced and reduce stress on your adrenal glands.
    Cut the Caffeine: When you’re tired the easy thing to do is reach for coffee or an energy drink, but don’t! The caffeine only provides an additional stimulus to your adrenals, raising stress in the long term.

  2. Calm Yourself 

    Minimise electronics: Television, Smartphones, computers and other electronics may seem like a great idea, but they create unfavourable chemical changes in the body (the tired but wired feeling!)
    Sleep: You should be aiming for at least 8 hours of sleep every night. And if you’re truly looking to optimise your sleeping patterns then try to follow a natural circadian rhythm by sleeping from 10am until 6am every night.
    Breathe: Sometimes when we’re stressed our breathing becomes shallow and erratic. You’d be amazed at just how calming it can be to stop and take five big, deep diaphragmatic breaths.

  3. Manage Expectations

    At times in life it can feel like everyone and everything wants a piece of your time. Your family want X, your friends want Y, but before you can do any of that your boss wants Z, sound familiar?

But here’s the reality, a lot of this stress is your fault, and it’s been caused by allowing others to have unrealistic expectations of your time and availability.

  • You need to start setting clear boundaries and sticking to them.
  • You need to prioritise what’s really important and delegate or ignore the rest.

After all, how can you help anyone else if you’re not taking the time to look after yourself?

Follow these tips, take the time to look after yourself, and we can guarantee that your health will start to improve.

Richard TaylorRichard Taylor Weight Loss Consultant and Personal Trainer

Richard specialises in exercise for weight loss. He is available for 1-on-1 Personal Training, Small Group Training and Corporate Personal Training in the Lower North Shore area. Book a FREE fat loss consultation to discover what he can do for your health.

Find out more about Richard here

Richard Taylor
Richard Taylor

Richard is a certified Personal Trainer with a strong background in competitive team sports and athletics. He believes that exercise should be enjoyed and social, which is the approach he takes with his clients. Richard specialises in exercise for weight loss. He is available for 1-on-1 Personal Training, Small Group Training and Corporate Personal Training in the Lower North Shore area. Book a FREE fat loss consultation to discover what he can do for your health.